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Robrecht Meersman for In The Pocket

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React Native is here to stay

This post originally appeared on our ITP website

React Native is one of many cross-platform frameworks aiming to bridge the gap between iOS and Android app development. However, React Native is not like any other cross-platform framework. With a growing number of top-ranking apps built using React Native and the backing of major companies, it's clear that this framework is not just a passing trend but a significant player in the mobile development landscape.

If you’re not already sold, this article should convince you to embrace React Native and show you how we utilise it at In The Pocket to create top-notch mobile experiences.

(For clarity: this article is NOT sponsored by React Native 🥲)

Built on solid ecosystems

React Native builds upon solid foundations: JavaScript and React. Foundations many developers are skilled in and that have big and active communities. The "Learn once, write anywhere" slogan of React Native really holds true, empowering developers to utilise their existing coding skills to write code for both iOS and Android platforms with minimal learning curve.

Apart from leveraging these foundations, React Native still retains the ability to fully access and utilise the native capabilities of the underlying iOS and Android platforms. This means that developers can tap into the performance and accessibility functionalities of the devices seamlessly, without compromise, even though they're primarily working with JavaScript and React.

React Native, a simple schematic overview

Backed by big companies

The open source landscape can be the Wild West, often relying on the goodwill of solo developers who can pull the plug at anytime. React Native distinguishes itself with backing from major players like Meta, Microsoft, and Shopify. Their active involvement ensures the continuous growth and improvement of React Native. Moreover, companies such as Software Mansion and Callstack contribute valuable libraries and host yearly conferences, enlarging the community.

Another big asset is Expo, a major player in simplifying React Native development with a suite of tools and services. By getting rid of native complexities, Expo allows developers to focus on building features rather than dealing with technical cross-platform intricacies. Through open-source libraries and tools, Expo streamlines development.

Next to that, Expo Application Services (EAS) is a cloud-based solution for building, signing, distributing, and updating apps, reducing setup time and continuous integration workflows. And Expo Updates, a feature of EAS, enables over-the-air updates, ensuring users have access to the latest features and bug fixes, facilitating rapid app iteration and improvement.

Bright future ahead

The future of React Native looks promising, as the React Native team plans a significant overhaul of its core internals, called the New Architecture, aimed at improving its performance and scalability. Additionally, Expo continues to evolve, enhancing developer experience with new features and keeping an exciting roadmap.

Expo promises to release an update to their SDK each quarter, so apps will always be able to target the latest iOS and Android versions. These advancements make it easier than ever to build, deploy, and manage React Native applications, ensuring the framework remains at the forefront of mobile development.

React Native in practice

Izimi mobile app

At In The Pocket, React Native has enabled us to create robust and future-proof applications like the Izimi mobile app: a sturdy and future-proof digital vault, also available as a web portal. Harnessing React Native's native capabilities and seamlessly integrating Itsme e-ID authentication, Izimi ensures a secure and user-friendly authentication experience. By sharing JavaScript code between web and app, we've accelerated our development process while minimising code duplication.

The Izimi vault: Built with React Native

Multipharma app

For Multipharma, React Native facilitated the rapid development of a new mobile app in just five months. The same developers could work on the mobile app and web portal, keeping feature parity high. Because React Native is just native, we could leverage on-device security measures like biometrics and encryption, ensuring end-to-end application security.

Colruyt Xtra app

These security features also play a role in the Xtra app we help develop for Colruyt Group. Native integrations allow the user to use biometrics to securely pay your groceries right from the app. Thanks to the large open source community, these native integrations often already exist, helping us gain speed by not reinventing the wheel. The modularity of React allows us to collaborate with multiple feature teams in parallel while maintaining a consistent look and feel through the use of a centralised design system. The design system used in Xtra enforces accessibility by default, and using TypeScript strengthens the ability to ensure accessibility in the application.

React Native at In The Pocket

At In The Pocket we’ve had React Native on our tech radar since its early stages and we have seen it grow and mature. We have seen that React Native can create just as high-quality, performant, innovative apps as native ones. At In The Pocket, we fully embrace React Native and we are actively contributing to its open source landscape. We adopt Expo's ecosystem to accelerate our development even further.

We're excited to see how React Native continues to evolve and how it will shape the future of mobile development. As we continue to build and innovate, one thing remains clear—React Native is not just here to stay but to lead the way in mobile development.

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